Released: 2012, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
You may remember Heretic from their "Breaking Point" LP released on Metal Blade Records in 1988. Where "Breaking Point" featured Mike Howe on vocals who would of course go on to sing for Metal Church, Heretic circa 2012 features Julian Mendez on vocals and alongside the bands longtime guitarist Brian Korban is the addition of guitarist Glenn Rogers formerly of thrash metal legends Hirax. A TIME OF CRISIS marks the band's first new studio effort in twenty four years and was released via Italy's Metal On Metal Records.
"The Divine Inquisition" starts things off with a slow build in musical dynamics before kicking into full on neck break mode on 'Tomorrow's Plague". The thrash to be found on A TIME OF CRISIS sounds exactly as you would expect or hope it would sound. Firmly entrenched in the mid to late eighties era and considering the players on board for this release it only makes sense. Given the vast amount of metal groups currently enjoying their five minutes of fame in part to the rise in popularity of the retro-thrash movement, Heretic is actually the real deal. "Betrayed" is a mean son of a bitch with biting, buzzsaw guitars and the precision of drummer Ignazio Coppola building the perfect platform for vocalist Julian Mendez to belt out themes of betrayal to the listener. "A Time Of Crisis" the CD's title track, lyrically deals with a battle scarred generation too jaded to learn from our past lessons of violence. Musically we as the listeners are dealt some blistering and scorching guitar solos from Brian Korban and Glenn Rogers. "Raise Your Fist" should be a live favorite. It's rhythm is actually the perfect fist pumping tempo. I hear nods to classic Metallica on guitar as well. I read the lyrics for this one over and over a few times and I still have no idea what their about. A Sci-Fi film perhaps? Something about a shapeshifter? Anyway, cool track nonetheless.
Heretic have a song called "Heretic" and it is a right ass kicker. Julian Mendez showcases his range on this number, hitting some notes in the higher register as the band harkens back to a crossover thrash sound that's equal parts eighties hardcore punk as it is metal. "Child Of War" musically sounds like it could have been a Motorhead song and that's a compliment. It's faast, bluesy and heavy and delivered with piss and vinegar. "Police State" touches base on the decaying state of the economy, personal freedom and modern politics. "The End Of The World" features an eerie riff straight out of the classical piece "Night On Bald Mountain". This is probably my favorite track on the disc and I love the sounds of horrified screaming people incorporated very low in the mix as the song fades out. That was a nice touch. "Let Me Begin Again" ends this affair and is a bluesy and somewhat mellow instrumental. There is some really good lead guitar playing as this song builds and builds. These guys are all seasoned pros, so it should come as no surprise that they make a pretty kick ass jam band.
The album production handled by John Haddad at Trench Studios is excellent and the accompanying CD booklet is laid out in a blood soaked newspaper theme. Various photographs and artwork depicting persecution and war are laid out alongside band members and the lyrics and makes for some pretty cool packaging. As for the actual album cover there is a hand drawn piece featuring a seemingly evil Priest with a menacing grin and eyes that would suggest he is quite possibly possessed by the devil. Musically speaking, Heretic isn't bringing anything new to the table (or the thrash metal genre as a whole) but they do what they do very well and keep in mind that these guys were there when this style was invented, so would you expect them to play any different or even want them too? I think this is a solid comeback release from Heretic and will look forward to seeing what they bounce back with next.